Professional re-use of amateur content

An interesting article on the BBC website about the rules around what information journalists should be able to re-use in the media from social networking and social media sites.

My view is that:

  • the method used to obtain the information is very important – if a journo picks up a piece of info or a photo from an open site like Flickr then it seems fair game – however, they shouldn’t obtain information via deceipt and subterfuge from a private space like Facebook … ‘digital door-stepping’
  • I am uncomfortable about stuff that I publish being re-used for commercial gain without my permission … but if the info is taken from a public space then maybe I should just get over it!

If we could trust journos to apply a bit of basic ‘humanity’ to their decisions to re-use people’s stuff, we wouldn’t have a problem. The real issue is that the ‘rules’ of social media are unwritten and rely on people knowing them and playing by them …

It seems to me that these unwritten rules can be categorised into two areas:

  • understanding the publisher’s intention when they published something and respecting that intention
  • if you are about to re-use content, asking yourself how the publisher will feel when/if they see their content re-used in the context in which you plan to re-use it.

Neither of these are particularly difficult to understand and not abiding by them is essentially manipulation and exploitation … it breaks the spirit of social media.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to legislate for spirit and media self-regulation is laughable so we can expect to see much more media manipulation and exploitation of social media content in the future …



  1. Maybe the time is coming when we *should* produce written rules for our work?

    A lot of folk have concerns like this. Paul Downey (@psd) has a nice blog where he expounds about a wide variety of things.

    He explicitly uses a Creative Commons Licence to insist on attribution of his work. If some BBC hack used his work and didn’t attribute it – I’d expect him to follow it up.

    Flickr has a selection of Creative Commons Licencing offerings which can clearly confer/deny rights.

    How do you feel about these?
    Personally, while I’m a bit saddened, I think they are both godd and becoming necessary.

  2. The Flickr page is very useful … shame you can’t choose the level of copyright/protection you wish to apply to your social networking profile page! That would be a nice touch … you could select from a list like the one on the Flickr page …

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